Most reality television watchers could likely recognize the cast of Pawn Stars on sight. However, while they’ve become plenty familiar with Rick, Chumlee, and the rest at this point, they may not know once juicy detail. Most of the crew people came to know from the show centered around the Las Vegas pawn shop, made it onto television before they got their own show.
When Pawn Stars first aired on July 26, 2009, it was actually years in the making. Founder of the shop at the center of things, Rick Harrison opened Gold & Silver Pawn Shop 20 years earlier.
‘Pawn Stars’ Started Thanks To PBS?
The shop, and the people who worked in it got their first real start when Gold & Silver Pawn Shop was the focus of a PBS documentary in 2001, eight years before its move to reality TV. Business took off after the documentary aired, and Rick saw an opportunity to move in a new direction by creating a reality show.
He talked about how he realized the potential for a standalone show in an interview back then. “For lack of a better term, I was always just a media whore, and whenever I got national press, it was good for business,” he told 8 News Now Las Vegas. However, there was still another stop on television before the reality series.
The Next Step
Rick saw another opportunity in 2003, when the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop was featured on comedian Dave Attell’s show Insomniac. It appears this is really where Rick decided that his shop could be at the center of reality television.
The Pawn Stars figure really started pitching a reality TV show about the business, but it turned out that producers and networks weren’t on board just yet.
“I was pitching the show for four years, and nothing ever came of it,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2010.
Eventually a network saw the promise, though it wasn’t really what Rick envisioned.
It turned out that HBO wanted to put the Pawn Stars crew on television, though with a very different twist. That network wanted to do a kind of Taxicab Confessions sort of show. There was one big problem, however. Nothing as sexy or crazy as Taxicab Confessions really happened with Rick’s pawn shop.
After what Rick has described as “a terrible pilot” the show never got off the ground.
It was after that failed attempt that Leftfield Pictures approached the pawnshop owner and talked to him about his extensive knowledge of history. The company put the show where it belonged — on the History channel. That turned out to be the winning move for Pawn Stars.
“We never thought it was going to be this big,” Rick once said. “I was hoping to get a season or two out of it — maybe a little press, maybe a little more business in the store, but I never thought it was going to do this.”
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